by Ellen Nimmo
It starts out small. Like a pea beneath the proverbial mattress of life. An irritability. A shortness of patience, acceptance, or breath. I toss and turn. I moan and groan. I flounder and forget. And somehow the pea turns into a mighty hill of beans. It’s shadow casting long and gloomy discontent. It amounts to little and yet it dominates my view.
Gone are the moments of appreciation. Gone is lighthearted laughter, peaceful pause, and meek moderation. Gone are the daily celebrations, delicate perceptions which gratitude affords.
The only thing left is a pea-sized and grumbling heart. At least, that’s how it happens with me.
Yesterday a woman I know, work with, and admire shared the What & Why behind gratitude. Turns out, her essay and oodles of research claim, we need gratitude in our lives. Need it like we need soap for our laundry, need it like we need sunshine for vitamin D, and like we need rain for rainbows. Rain for rainbows you say? Yes. Dolly Parton knew it and I’ve found out too. That is to say, sometimes, the best things come through a little pause in the action, a little drip on the roof of reality. As my friend shared yesterday, gratitude can feel difficult to drum up, especially in times of trouble, anxiety, or heartache. But, as Kelly well put it, gratitude is worth fighting for. And while chasing gratitude in 2020 can feel like a race I’m not equipped to run, that reality has brought me right here to the keyboard. To think of gratitude and fight for it.
Because I know. I know. Without gratitude, my days are like laundry with no soap, like sunshine that scorches and zaps, like rain without rainbows. It is a lesson I must learn. Again and again if necessary. But when I recognize this (and by God, the sooner the better!) and shift my mind and heart towards gratitude, chasing it down like some hoary and hobbled crook who forgot some condemning something at the scene of a crime, something changes.
Where does something change? In my mind and heart, that’s where.
Expressing or simply thinking about: things, people, places, and memories I’m thankful for, and oft take for granted, feels like spotting a rainbow after a storm. To be sure, this world can be brutish. Stormy. Cold. Our lives full of disappointments and discomfort. But, for those fortunate thieves who, like me, find ourselves in the shadow of a bean hill of ingratitude, the choice is ever before us, gratitude is always ours for the finding. What will we do?
Upon searching, I’m realizing more and more, there’s a kaleidoscope of thanksgiving there, ready to be enjoyed. This year, as I contemplate gratitude, I’m finding the when is always now and the where is always wherever we are today.